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Orange County Board of Commissioners hear update on Rogers Road

Section 8 vouchers

Low-income families in Orange County will have more options for housing moving forward, according to the Orange County Housing Authority Board’s presentation to the Orange County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

Due to a previous allocation of county funds, the Section 8 housing board was able to increase its payment standard for housing choice vouchers to 110 percent of the fair market rent rate.

“Eventually that means they will be serving fewer families, but the families that they serve will have a greater choice of housing,” said Jean Bolduc, chairwoman of the OCHA board.

The commissioners raised concerns about the standards of upkeep in certain apartment complexes that accept housing choice vouchers.

Bolduc said the OCHA has had problems with landlords who charge the full, fair market rate for housing to low-income people who are not receiving housing choice vouchers.

Though the apartment complexes are receiving the same amount of rent under this system as they would under Section 8, their properties are not held to the same standards of upkeep.

Bolduc said there are currently about 1,300 people on the waiting list for Section 8 housing in Chapel Hill.

He said the average wait time to receive Section 8 housing is five to eight years.

Rogers Road sewer

The Board also received an update on an engineering study being conducted on the Rogers Road neighborhood — moving one step closer to county sewer in the historically black and low-income community.

A consultant for the Orange County Water and Sewer Authority is scheduled to complete the $130,000 study in March, said John Young, chairman of the OWASA Board.

Following the initial engineering study, OWASA will begin the design stage for the water and sewer connections, followed by the development stage. Young said each stage is expected to take about a year.

“We look forward to bringing them successfully to a conclusion,” he said.

OWASA update

OWASA is also considering altering the way the company turns waste into fertilizer in order to cut costs, Young said.

Commissioners raised concerns about pharmaceuticals contaminating the soil, which Young confirmed was a possibility.

Despite needing to cut costs, Young’s report was positive.

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“The state of the utility overall is very strong,” he said.

OWASA board member Terri Buckner said the company is also working on a website where customers can round their water bill up to the nearest dollar and give the extra money to help low-income families pay their water bill.